Kol haBirah: meet bruce pascal: jewish community leader, real estate executive, hot wheels collector
In a Kol HaBirah interview with Washington real estate executive Bruce Pascal, whose Hot Wheels collection has been valued at over one million dollars, Pascal discusses his lifelong relationship with B'nai B'rith International.
Many of us have heard the adage that boys don’t grow up, their toys just get more expensive. In the case of Potomac, Maryland, resident Bruce Pascal, the adage should add: his toys get more valuable.
Pascal, who serves as Cushman & Wakefield’s executive managing director professionally, and who has been a fixture in the Metropolitan Washington commercial real estate leasing industry for over 30 years, has amassed one of the largest and most valuable Hot Wheels collections in the world. It includes over 4,000 toy cars, prototypes that were never released to the public, wood carvings that were later turned into car molds, store displays, original artwork by Otto Kuhni (the Hot Wheels famed graphic designer), and much more. The collection has been appraised at over $1 million and includes the rarest and most valuable Hot Wheel ever produced: the Pink Beach Bomb rear loading Volkswagen bus prototype, which is worth over $150,000.
His passion for Hot Wheels and his professional background motivated Bruce to follow the advice he shares with clients and to build his dreams. In doing so, he converted his home office into a Hot Wheels-inspired room that would have befit the President of Mattel in the 1970s. The office includes bright orange tracks that flow from the floor to the ceiling, a custom desk, a wall-sized mural of Hot Wheels artwork, and display cases to hold his cars.
Beyond Hot Wheels, Pascal and his family have served as volunteer lay leaders in the Washington Jewish community for four generations.
“My passion first and foremost starts with the State of Israel,” said Pascal. “Two organizations that I have been a part of all of my life are State of Israel Bonds and B’nai B’rith International.”
Pascal’s grandfather, Fred Kolker, founded the Kolker Poultry company in 1930 out of Union Terminal Market. Kolker was the first Washingtonian to buy an Israel bond in 1951, the year that David Ben-Gurion founded the organization and the State of Israel started to issue bonds to foster the development of the then three-year-young nation. Pascal recalled his grandfather telling him that he thought he was “kissing the money away and never thought that Israel would be able to repay him, but what greater thing to do in life — what could be better than to help the State of Israel?”
Pascal first purchased his own Israel bond in 1974 following his bar mitzvah. His grandfather asked him if he made any money at his bar mitzvah, and after instilling in him the importance of supporting Israel, Pascal purchased an Israel bond when he was just 13 years old. He has continued that tradition by purchasing one or more every year since then. Pascal has used Israel bonds as gifts, donated them to charities, held them in his retirement account, and has served in various volunteer leadership positions, including as chairman of Israel Bonds New Leadership Division. He and his wife have also hosted the Israel Bonds Ambassador’s Ball and were recognized at the Israel Bonds Prime Minister’s Club Dinner for their support of the organization and the State of Israel over the years.
As with Israel Bonds, Pascal’s personal and professional lives have intersected through B’nai B’rith International. “My first dates were because of B’nai B’rith’s AZA group,” he said, “and then in college, when I found myself with not enough money to buy a meal plan, I made a deal with Hillel at GW, which was started by B’nai B’rith, and I cooked Shabbat dinners and got free meals. Once again, in a time of my life when I needed help, B’nai B’rith was there.”
Later in Pascal’s career, he worked with B’nai B’rith to help them with their office space needs and later joined their board, eventually becoming a senior vice president, one of the highest volunteer positions in the international organization. Pascal is passionate about the Jewish concept of tikkun olam (fixing the world). “The Jewish world needs people to step up and help to make the world better,” he said, “and to help safeguard the State of Israel. It is not going to happen by itself. I feel that it is everybody’s responsibility to do what they can.”
“When I joined B’nai B’rith, I quickly found out that they have a program to help the small Jewish community in Cuba. I’ve since been there 17 times,” said Pascal. “Every time I bring a package of medicine … it is helping a community, and it is magnified. There is a special pride that Jews can help Jews wherever they are around the world.”
Watch the interview with bruce pascal here:
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